Originally published March 5 2014
Keep calm: Risk of heart attack rises in hours after angry outburst
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) If ever there was a reason to try to stay calm in stressful situations, this is it: A new study finds that you may be more at risk for a heart attack or stroke following an angry outburst.
Researchers were quick to add that the absolute risks to any one person of having heart problems following a single outburst remain low. But, following a review of multiple studies, researchers determined that the risk did, in fact, rise considerably when compared to periods of calm.
"It is not surprising that such an association is seen since we know that anger is associated with increased reaction of the body's nervous system to stress," one expert, Dr. Sripal Bangalore, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay News.
The unhealthy reaction includes "increases in heart rate and blood pressure -- both of which can have immediate adverse consequences," Bangalore, who was not involved in the study, said.
Researchers performed a meta-analysis of nine studies that were conducted between 1966 and 2013, which included more than 4,500 cases of heart attacks, 462 cases of acute coronary syndrome (a catch-all term that includes chest pain and heart attack), in excess of 800 stroke cases and more than 300 cases of heart arrhythmia. As reported by HealthDay News, the researchers found:
Within two hours of an angry outburst, a person's risk of heart attack or acute coronary syndrome increased nearly five-fold, their risk of stroke rose nearly four-fold and their risk of a dangerous heart rhythm disorder called ventricular arrhythmia also rose.
Underlying factors increase your risk
Scientists evaluating the studies said they found that the risk was highest among those who became angry more often and had existing risk factors like prior heart problems. The findings were published online March 3 in the European Heart Journal.
Elizabeth Mostofsky, an instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health who led the study, said that, because angry outbursts are pretty rare and the effects appear to be transient, "the impact on an individual's absolute risk of a cardiovascular event is small."
"Although the risk of experiencing an acute [heart] event with any single outburst of anger is relatively low, the risk can accumulate for people with frequent episodes of anger," she said. "This is particularly important for people who have higher risk due to other underlying risk factors or those who have already had a heart attack, stroke or diabetes.
"For example, a person without many risk factors for [heart] disease who has only one episode of anger per month has a very small additional risk, but a person with multiple risk factors or a history of heart attack or stroke, and who is frequently angry, has a much higher absolute excess risk accumulated over time," she continued.
Don't let it get to the point of an outburst
Granted, some situations get out of control before you know it, but some experts say the best way to avoid risking your health is to never let it get to the point that you have to lash out.
"Often an angry outburst is the result of pushing emotions down for a while," said Beth Burgess, a Dialectical Behavior Therapist, specializing in anxiety and stress, and founder of Sort My Life Solutions (Smyls).
"If you suddenly lose your rag at someone, it's more than likely not the first time they have angered you," she told Natural News in an email. "It's the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. If someone is doing something you don't like, address it the first time it upsets you, rather than enduring the problem silently and exploding when you can't take any more."
Prof. Joshua Klapow, a licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, agrees.
"Very often people don't recognize most early signs of increasing anger. As a result they allow anger levels to rise too high to control on their own," he told Natural News.
Other experts say the best way to keep your stress levels down is through regular physical exercise.
"My favorite way to exercise is to take exercise classes because they work on a multitude of levels - they produce endorphins and they're social," Dr. Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D., a psychologist at Bryn Mawr Hospital in Pennsylvania, told me. "Distracting yourself when you're stressed is a great way to put your problems in perspective."
Dr. Isaiah B. Pickens, a licensed clinical psychologist in New Jersey and founder of iOpeningEnterprises, says one way to keep stress at bay is to keep good company.
"Connect with the right people," he told Natural News. "As social beings, few other natural strategies are as effective at reducing stress as spending time with people we care about and who care about us."
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